How not to add twitter followers

There are plenty of ways not to add Twitter followers. Here is one:

Here is what she should have done, and still can do:

1: Used her real name. We like talking to people not bots or spammers – and I’d like to refer to you by name not “she”

2: Started a blog – and linked to it with her twitter profile and tweet. Described exactly what she is doing on that blog – including questions she wants answers, who she is targeting (what is a baby boomer anyway?) and where she is doing her MBA. A blog makes it personal, gives much more scope for telling us more about the project and yourself and is trivial to set up (wordpress.com). If we know what you are doing we are more likely to want to help

3: Not asked people to follow her on Twitter, asked a very few people for advice and never asked people to (RT) Re-Tweet the message. These are Twitter ettiquite no-nos. People understand that retweeting and following are behaviours that you would like, but ask for them at your peril.

About Lance Wiggs

@lancewiggs
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32 Responses to How not to add twitter followers

  1. Agreed, I prefer real names not only on Twitter but on blogs.

    1) I personally find it easier to remember someones real name and therefore easier to DM them e.g. Dave Crampton is far easier for me to remember and spell than @caffeiene_addict

    2) Less likely to be a bot unless it’s a porn spammer.

    3) Has more authenticity and shows someone is taking responsibility and not hiding behind an internet only identity.

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  2. P.S. after suggesting you add recent comments to the the top of your sidebar I read on Problogger a suggestion NOT to do that. However our testing using Crazyegg.com suggests that it is a very popular navigation tool for our readers on interest.co.nz.

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    • Ruatara says:

      Recent comments is the first, and possibly only bit I look at on this site after reading whatever post I clicked on in my RSS reader.

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      • Yeah, I figure most people are keen to see who has responded to their comment.

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      • Dave says:

        Why not just subscribe the the comments RSS feed? The link is right down there at the bottom of the page. According to my Google Reader Trends, I’m the only one that has done so, but it’s a great way to keep in touch with the complete conversation

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  3. Rick Shera says:

    Yeah and calling someone a baby boomer when they are not is unlikely to endear yourself to them either whoever you are! #fail

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  4. Mark Harris says:

    Ah, wasn’t just me that got annoyed by that, then.

    Takes me back to Usenet days when kids would try and get you to do their homework for them. I remember one response to “What was the central them in Romeo and Juliet?” that was a brilliant pastiche and sounded so plausible yet completely wrong. I wish I’d kept it.

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  5. Ben says:

    Perhaps it is another blog post in itself, but I’d also point out that this is no way to do robust research. Who does he/she expect the responses will represent? They certainly won’t represent ‘NZ baby boomers’.

    Makes me wonder if they have even done a research design course as part of their degree.

    Another reason not to hire MBAs ;o) (present company excluded, of course)

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  6. Sharon Buckland says:

    Gee, you guys are funny, and so missing the point. For the sake of sanity, IMHO let me elicidate some, and let me preface my comments by saying they are my own subjective views and observations:

    IMHO, there is no such thing as Twitter Etiquette – that’s an affectation of techsnobs – because Twitter is too new and evolving to be constrained by sets of rules about how it’s supposed to be (neither does it need them, since the emotional, intellectual, time or resource cost of participation is so low and there are no barriers to withdrawal or non-participation). And you’re not the arbiter of the Twittersphere either, that’s arrogant and also unrealistic. The Twittersphere will develop, evolve and move around as its users choose to let it, not according to your (or anyone else’s) idea of any “right” way to do it. If early-adopter techos try to build etherspheric restrictions on who or how people can communicate on Twitter, and it becomes too hard for new users to enter or we start to get scared to play with it for fear of ridicule from those with five minutes’ more experience than us, then how can we progress with it and see where it goes? Can you see that that’s destructive?

    Especially for Ben, the research expert, my Twitter group is an experiment in whether Twitter can be an alternative to focus groups, which is just basic qual, hon, not intended to be robust research, you snob. I would have thought a research academic might have been interested to see how it developed, instead of leaping quickly into criticising it for not being approached in the same way as traditionally (actually, I thought that was the point of Twitter). As with most focus groups, it’s part of a bigger picture.

    Creating and linking a blog would have defeated the purpose. I wanted to see if Twitter could do it on its own and how it worked without other support. Using a blog to explain, enlarge and elicidate would have meant I was using other tools of the internet to communicate, not Twitter itself. IMHO, blog expansions are about using Twitter as Headlines to bigger discussions, rather than using Twitter as a conversation in its own right, but I’m not raining on your parade – if the blog thing works for you, go to it. I’m not trying to form a relationship with followers or build a community or anything lasting, I just want to dip in and out of the Twittersphere in a short time frame – your criticisms demonstrate restricted thinking about the role and scope of what Twitter “should” be used for – the reality is that Twitter will be used for whatever its users want to use it for and whatever others respond to. You, like everyone else, have the right to participate or not; you do not have any legitimacy for disapproving.

    For clarification, I revealed my name, the purpose of the research and what University I’m doing my Executive MBA at (Massey, as it happens, Ben’s old stomping ground) – it wasn’t a secret, but you can only send messages into the Twittersphere in 140 character lots – now there’s a learning. Anyone curious enough to come see my twitter could have seen the information freely revealed without being committed to participate, such is the nature of Twitter.

    What I set out to do was to see how quickly, using existing sources and no external crutches, I could find a small group of NZ Baby Boomers willing to come see what I was doing. I wasn’t aiming for lots, 8 would have been fine (who says Twitter has to be about big numbers?). I asked freely of the Twittersphere – as is my right conferred by the nature of Twitter and the consent of users who maintain open channels of communication (as opposed to those opting to restrict access) – and people responded.

    Despite Lance’s paternalistic tch-tching, I achieved what I set out to achieve within a day. People, who describe themselves as NZ Baby Boomers, are in the group, following, answering, participating. Not only does that tell me something about Twitter, it tells me something about Baby Boomers (or at least a particular type). It also tells me Lance is mistaken, that there are enough people using Twitter who were not offended by my approach – perhaps they don’t subscribe to the “etiquette” theory either). Anyone who was offended had a couple of valid options – they could ignore or delete my message, block me from following them, not RT, or direct message me, since I left that option open. Your subjective views are no more than that, just subjective. If you’d genuinely been interested in engaging with me, you could have direct messaged me. You chose instead to slag off my twitterplay in a mock-superior blog, so I’m asking you – what do you think that achieves? Anything useful or constructive? To be fair, I’ve taken a learning from it. I now have more observations about barriers to participation and social norming to add to what I knew yesterday, so thanks for that.

    Finally, for the record, I didn’t call anyone a Baby Boomer (read the message) – I asked the people I contacted to pass my message on to any Baby Boomers they knew, which they had the prerogative to do, or not do and let it pass by them, such is the transitory nature of the Twittersphere.

    If you want to talk to me, email me, or send a tweet to my personal twitter @sharonthekiwi. Blogs have their place, but they’re no substitute for direct communication.

    Cheers
    Sharon Buckland, openly declared social experimenter and lippy chick … and Baby Boomer.

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    • Ben Kepes says:

      Ouch – There’s not many people who can lash Lance playing his own game but I think we might have just found one

      ;-)

      Luckily Lance is both a nice guy and someone who enjoys intellectual jousting and I’m sure we’ll see a similarly verbose riposte from him

      Let the games begin 9well continue – but you know what I mean)

      Ben (who agrees that twitter handles are best personal and whom therefore is readily accessed everywhere on the web as benkepes)

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  7. stuartm says:

    The beauty of Twitter is that if you don’t like what someone is saying, you can block them or just not follow them. I agree with Sharon’s comment about Twitter Etiquette – there are no hard or fast rules, use the service as you like. Imagine if Twitter had remained as the developers intended with just “What are you doing now” status updates? Experiments like Sharon’s will come and go, some will work and others will fail miserably (e.g. the Vodafone 3GGuy debacle) In this case, the experiment seemed to work, so well done to Sharon.

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  8. Joann Ransom says:

    I felt 2 annoyances:

    I too hate following a twitter-handle which is not a person. I want to talk to a person not an institution.

    And secondly I couldn’t easily dm her because she doesn’t follow me so I was irked by the one-sided relationship I had entered into.

    I think the post and the responses are very interesting and I will follow this with interest.

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  9. Lance Wiggs says:

    Thanks for the reply Sharon. I am, of course, an MBA graduate so the jokes are on me as well.

    IMHO, there is no such thing as Twitter Etiquette
    I disagree – any community or group will form norms, often very quickly. Indeed Google has 10,800,000 listings for “twitter etiquette”

    Ben, the research expert, my Twitter group is an experiment in whether Twitter can be an alternative to focus groups, which is just basic qual, hon, not intended to be robust research, you snob.

    Sharon did you mean for this to sound this inflammatory and personal? Please attack the idea not the person.

    Meanwhile I agree with Ben this is certainly a strange way to go about research. What were your research aims? How do you remove bias from your sample? Focus groups are normally selected with care, and backed up with qualitative research – are you doing so? What is the bigger picture?

    I personally think that Twitter is a useful research tool – but not for focus groups. It’s almost the opposite – completely unfocused. It’s great when used by businesses trying to understand what people feel right now, and for getting very quick and dirty responses to the occasional question. Perhaps there is room for a @DailySurvey twitter account where people respond pithily to a daily question? (after giving their demos in of course)

    Creating and linking a blog would have defeated the purpose. I wanted to see if Twitter could do it on its own and how it worked without other support.

    Why? What have you learned? What were your research aims? It isn’t really a fair test as Twitter is but one of a number of communications channels we have. If not a blog then most folks on Twitter have facebook, myspace, linked in or any number of other avenues to write longer prose.

    IMHO, blog expansions are about using Twitter as Headlines to bigger discussions, rather than using Twitter as a conversation in its own right, but I’m not raining on your parade – if the blog thing works for you, go to it.

    I don’t understand this point.

    You, like everyone else, have the right to participate or not; you do not have any legitimacy for disapproving.

    I have the right to approve, disapprove, condemn, disparage, applaud or grant kudos. I exercise those rights frequently. You may choose to ignore or respond accordingly, and I’ve even provided a forum to do so.

    For clarification, I revealed my name, the purpose of the research and what University I’m doing my Executive MBA

    Only some hours after the initial tweet barrage. It would have been much better, and simpler, to include that information in your Twitter profile (along with a link to more information)

    What I set out to do was to see how quickly, using existing sources and no external crutches, I could find a small group of NZ Baby Boomers willing to come see what I was doing. I wasn’t aiming for lots, 8 would have been fine

    The benefit above is tiny in relation to the cost that you caused to people on twitter. You @name messaged over 30 people, all with large numbers of followers, and resulted in getting a tiny sample. Twitter would be a horrid place if this sort of behaviour became a norm – it’s like receiving email addressed to you that you didn’t ask for or is not really relevant to you. We call that spam, and what you sent out was spam.

    Was this factored into the decision to embark upon this reseach? Did you consider the reputational risk to your university department and you personally?

    Who approved this research?

    Despite Lance’s paternalistic tch-tching, I achieved what I set out to achieve within a day.

    If you aim low enough then you will succeed, but I still don’t understand how you can term what you have as success. You have, as you point out, got enough for a paper on the topic of using twitter for surveying.

    People, who describe themselves as NZ Baby Boomers, are in the group, following, answering, participating. Not only does that tell me something about Twitter, it tells me something about Baby Boomers (or at least a particular type).

    Are you really inferring anything from this tiny sample?

    It also tells me Lance is mistaken,
    It wouldn’t be the first time. I believe it would be the second.

    ..that there are enough people using Twitter who were not offended by my approach – perhaps they don’t subscribe to the “etiquette” theory either).

    Most would just delete and move on. I didn’t, and as a PR person I am sure you know all about the ratios between customers that complain and customers that get annoyed but never say anything.

    Anyone who was offended had a couple of valid options – they could ignore or delete my message, block me from following them, not RT, or direct message me, since I left that option open.
    or blog about it.

    Your subjective views are no more than that, just subjective.

    I’m trying to help. Really. I offered ways to fix your approach in red above. We are all well aware of how small New Zealand is, and it is in all of our interests that we all get better at everything. I’d rather live in a win-win society – albeit one where robust debate is an option.

    If you’d genuinely been interested in engaging with me, you could have direct messaged me.
    Then I would have had to follow you – and I am no baby boomer.

    You chose instead to slag off my twitterplay in a mock-superior blog, so I’m asking you – what do you think that achieves? Anything useful or constructive?

    I aimed to help you (and I did not know who or where you were when I write the post.) and I was also venting my frustration at what I still see as Twitter spam. Meanwhile I resent the accusation that this is a mock-superior blog – it is meant to be a pseudo-superior blog.

    However I also DM people, provide quiet feedback to the occasional article I see to the author and field phone calls, blog comments and contact-me’s from anybody. Now and then I feel the urge and write a blog post. You are up there with some pretty big corporates, but in this instance you represent your university not your employer.

    I strongly feel that if you are conducting research then it is contingent upon you to be contactable and human.

    To be fair, I’ve taken a learning from it. I now have more observations about barriers to participation and social norming to add to what I knew yesterday, so thanks for that.

    But have you actually learned anything? The lengthy comment above comment, while welcome and I’m happy you have made it, contains much that is ad-hominem and defensive.

    There is no barrier to participation in almost any group (I did go to the NZ Economist’s conference after all) and yet if you behave in the wrong way in any forum then you will find it harder going.

    Twitter has plenty of nerds and geeks – though we may be business people, coders, lawyers and even consultants. But as nerds we can barely communicate to each other in a crowded pub at 11pm after 5 drinks. As a PR professional you are surely more familiar with that most black of arts – walking into a crowded room and meeting lots of new people. I’m surprised that during your time on twitter with your personal account that you have not picked up on the social mores.

    My personal bugbears are folks that DM me back when I follow them, people that retweet without adding value and those that seem to think that maximizing the number of followers they have is the raison-d’etre of Twitter.

    There are also codes of behaviour on blogs, in media and in personal life. We try to avoid personal attacks, we try to remain civil and we try to help.

    Finally, for the record, I didn’t call anyone a Baby Boomer
    It didn’t feel like that Sharon. The effect on me, and I am sure others, of receiving a message targeted at baby boomers is to wonder whether you think I am one. As I am clearly not, the next thought was to wonder exactly what you were trying to achieve. If there were a link to a more substantive piece then it may have been easier to achieve buy-in from your targeted twitterers.

    Again – thanks for your comment.

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  10. Glen Barnes says:

    “IMHO, there is no such thing as Twitter Etiquette – that’s an affectation of techsnobs – because Twitter is too new and evolving to be constrained by sets of rules about how it’s supposed to be (neither does it need them, since the emotional, intellectual, time or resource cost of participation is so low and there are no barriers to withdrawal or non-participation).”

    I would disagree. There is a quickly evolving set of Twitter Etiquette/norms that people are starting to follow. @replies, Re-Tweets (RT:), Overheard (O/H), etc. are all forms of social norms developing on Twitter. What you did was basically spam (maybe too stronger word) the people you followed with the same message to each person. It wasn’t authentic. It didn’t elicit the one-on-one response from as many people as it could have. It immediately made people suspicious of your motives.

    Of course things are still developing and it is how we react to these learning’s that is what is important (see the @vodafonenz example and the @salest examples)

    Anyway – you can find me anywhere online as barnaclebarnes. Real name Glen Barnes but that isn’t hard to find out. I like having a handle as it means I can get the same login at most sites.

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  11. Scott says:

    I don’t want to be seen as picking on Sharon but there’s a certain irony in saying there is “no such thing as Twitter Etiquette” yet you’re using “RT” (retweet) which isn’t an official part of Twitter. That’s something that users have made up along the way.

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  12. stuartm says:

    @scott – I don’t think using RT is considered ‘Twitter Etiquette’ – it’s more of a ‘standard’ way of reposting a message.

    But this also highlights how Twittequette (as I like to call it) means different things to different people. Some people prefer to repost a message using the ‘(via @person)’ method instead. Also, some people think it’s polite to follow back everyone who follows you, and others don’t like doing multiple RTs in message (e.g. RT @personA RT @personB etc…)

    The fact that there are 10,800,000 listings in Google about Twitter Etiquette just proves that there aren’t any standard rules of etiquette in Twitter. It’s a new, exciting, evolving place and anyone who claims that someone is breaking the ‘Twitter Etiquette’ rules, doesn’t really understand social communities and how they develop.

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  13. Scott says:

    @stuartm – It wasn’t my intention to imply that using RT was twitter etiquette but to draw parallels between a pair of unwritten rulesets. One she chose to use, one she disputes exists. I find that ironic.

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  14. steve adams says:

    @sharon: you spammed the place, pure and simple. it was cut,paste and send to strangers. as lance points out, if we all did that, twitter would ‘evolve’ into pointlessness. which is why you were called on it.

    @stuartm the etiquette on twitter maybe not be found in a standard rule book, and it’s an evolving culture, but the fundamentals are the same as everywhere else, online and offline: introduce yourself, give first, apologise when you fuck up, and when you disagree with someone, play the ball, not the man.

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    • Tom Butlin says:

      Nicely put, steve adams.

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      • stuartm says:

        @steve – I can almost guarantee that your idea of etiquette is quite different to mine. And that’s the problem, different people have different takes on etiquette – there’s lots of evidence of that in both the online and offline worlds.

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        • steve adams says:

          i don’t know stuart, you seem like a reasonable chap…i’m sure we’d get on fine! agree there is evidence of different takes on etiquette, but isn’t that just a nice way of saying there’s polite people and there’s…others?

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  15. Juha says:

    Hang on hang on… could you condense all that down to 140 characters? KTHXBAI

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  16. Ben Kepes says:

    Man…. there’s etiquette and there’s common practice. RT is the latter while not spamming people is the former. I believe that while Twitter is new and fresh and developing and dynamic and all those buzzwords, the bottom line is that it has some inherent “ground rules” which come through from that which has gone before it (be it virtual, physical, written whatever).

    Any situation on Twitter is analogous to something in the physical world – arguably Sharon’s initial approach was similar to running around a cocktail party madly grabbing people’s business cards and running off before giving them a chance to request a reciprocation – so while there is no hard and fast Twetiquette – Sharon’s approach can probably be fairly called *sub-optimal*

    That said it’s all something of a twarm in a tweecup and we should get back to what is important which is vilifying Clayton Weatherston and trying to be seen to be in contempt of court in an attempt to draw attention to the vagaries of our judicial system

    And for you Juha – NP IMHO All is GR8. Nom*3 TTYL KTHXBAI

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  17. “IMHO” added to my list of acronyms that will get you blocked,banned or unfriended.

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  18. Chris Labes says:

    As a newcomer to social media (and mediums) I have found this post and subsequent comments very interesting; and have found myself torn between moments of clarity and those of enhanced confusion.
    The final result; somewhat enlightened and encouraged by the vigorous debate and diverse opinions.

    _c

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  19. Falafulu Fisi says:

    I am glad that I am not on any Social Networking sites at all (have never ever joined one). Do I miss something? Nope! I save my useful time in not joining Social Networking sites/groups.

    I have some mates who told me that their wives are heavy Twitter users, where in some occasions they they tweet from some unusual locations such as the public toilets (seriously). One was a tweet message sent from Victoria Park public toilet and the other one was a tweet message sent from the Eden Park’s women’s toilet at halftime during the Auckland Blues & Waratahs’s super-14 game. The Victoria Park tweet was a complain about women who didn’t flush the toilet after using it and the woman who tweeted from Eden Park’s toilet complained about the unavailability of toilet papers. The husband didn’t elaborate further of what else did his wife find there to use, considering there was no toilet paper.

    It is amazing of how people want to announce to the world of private things in their lives that they should have kept those to themselves. I guess that some people do feel important if they announce to the world whatever activities they do on a continual basis even if those activities aren’t interested or relevant to others to know about.

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  20. What, like you just did Falafulu? The thing you seem to miss is their postings weren’t to the world, they were to someone/s specifically in mind with openness for others to see and link to.

    You might gain something from watching the anthropologist Michael Wesch’s lecture to the Library of Congress last year. Its on Youtube. Its called An Anthropological Introduction to Youtube. It doesn’t talk about Twitter, but it does talk about the same things that draw people into it and explain why they do the things they do on it.

    My own effort to explain social networking online to people who don’t yet understand it is to say: postings are like the clothes you wear when you go out socialising in real life. You wear things to make you feel x, to make your partner feel x, and maybe to link yourself and your partner/s with others who wear similar outfits and probably think and feel x.

    But the video says way more.

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